Moving to the defensive side of the ball in our "Top Three Gators of the 2010s" series, it's time to take a look at the top three defensive linemen for Florida over the oast decade.
Like the wide receiver position, there were more than three worthy candidates, as seen by a Twitter poll attempting to determine who gets the third spot.
After doing more of my own research, I didn't agree with the final results of the poll. However, it's clear that Florida fans were split on the decision as well.
Unlike the wide receiver position, however, Florida constantly churned out studs on the defensive line over the past 10 years. Not all were worthy of being in this discussion, such as Jonathan Greenard, Taven Bryan, Bryan Cox Jr. and so on, but at least deserve a shoutout.
With that being said, let's see who made the cut.
- Jachai Polite (2016-18): He wasn't as consistently dominant as the remainder of players on this list - in fact, he wasn't even listed as a starter for the majority of his lone big year, but Polite's 2018 season was one of, if not the most all-around productive seasons of any defensive lineman in UF history. 11 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, four batted passes - just ridiculous.
- Dominique Easley (2010-13): Easley found ways to create pressure on both the pass and run game consistently during his time at Florida, but his production (5.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss) and injury history (two torn ACLs and other undisclosed injuries) took away from just how good of a player he was in orange and blue.
3. Jonathan Bullard (2012-15)
Bullard, like Easley, was a disruptive force along Florida's defensive line, moving across the defensive front and generating pressure in both the run and the pass game.
The 6-3, 283 lb. defensive lineman recorded 12 sacks and 34 tackles for loss, with 18 TFLs coming in his monster senior season. Bullard was named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award that year, given to the nation's top defensive player, and was also placed in the All-SEC First Team unanimously.
2. Dante Fowler Jr. (2012-14)
The only edge rusher to make the list, Fowler Jr. earned immediate playing time at Florida and made the most of it - accumulating 2.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Fowler's production right out of the gate earned him SEC Coaches' All-Freshmen honors, and the awards didn't stop there.
Fowler went on to record a total of 14.5 sacks, 33 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles in three years at Florida, before declaring early for the NFL Draft where he went No. 3 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars - the highest Florida draft pick since 2001. After a strong finish at UF, tallying 8.5 sacks and 15 TFLs, Fowler Jr. was named both the team and defensive MVP of the 2014 season. He was named to the All-SEC First-Team by coaches for his performance.
1. Sharrif Floyd (2010-12)
Floyd was an absolute wrecking ball along Florida's interior defensive line.
Earning AP All-SEC First Team honors as both a defensive tackle and generally as a defensive lineman, Floyd's efforts landed him in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He only sacked the quarterback 4.5 times, but accumulated 26 tackles for loss in 37 career games - recording nine games with at least one TFL in 2012.
Floyd was also the first defensive lineman at Florida to earn All-American honors since 2001 for his performance in 2012, where he tallied three sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He went on to become a first round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings, however, his career was halted early on due to lingering nerve damage.